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Should your dog work for their food?

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

Hey everyone, it's Ryan King.

A conversation popped up today that I would love to discuss.

How many of us genuinely let our dogs "earn" their food?

Often, I hear people say that their dogs sit patiently and wait to be fed, but while it may seem like discipline, to me, that's not genuinely "working" for it.

Consider a dog in its natural habitat. Would it merely sit and wait for its meal? Not at all!

They would engage in hunting, chasing, tracking, and more before enjoying their meal. I'm not suggesting we make our pets go hunting, but the principle stands that we might be suppressing their innate instincts and work ethic.

Sure, obedience commands are beneficial, but let's not box ourselves in. We might be aiming for manners and discipline, but initially, this might be hindering more than helping.

There's a potential downside. When we aim to reward our dogs with a bowl of food, they might become apprehensive or undervalue the treat.

So, how about spicing up mealtime to make it both fun and rewarding?

Consider hunting (searching), scent games, agility drills, chasing, catching, and more...

Aligning their food rewards with activities that resonate with their natural instincts could be the way forward. I'm eager to hear your views!

How does your dog earn its meals?

And remember, merely having them sit and wait might not be the golden ticket.

"Let's instill the importance of effort in our dogs and make feeding times exhilarating."

Key points to consider:

The significance of this blog is to shed light on the significance of our little friends working for their food and to touch upon the essence of a dog's natural instincts and behaviours.

Keep these 5 principles in mind:
1. The Need for Mental Stimulation

Our beloved pets, particularly the working breeds, yearn for mental challenges. In the wild, dogs are engaged in a variety of tasks demanding strategic thinking and problem-solving skills, such as hunting, protecting their territory, and more. However, in domestic settings, these instincts often lie dormant due to the lack of needful stimulation. Hence why it's critical to satisfy their cognitive needs by providing them with mental exercises to keep them stimulated and active. Always remember, a mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog.

2. Training Beyond the Basics
3. Physical Exercise – The Fun Way
4. Tapping into Natural Instincts
5. Balancing Trust and Work

Remember that understanding your dog's breed, temperament, and unique needs is crucial. Each dog is an individual, with preferences and aversions. Always be observant of your dog's signals and body language. This ensures they're not just physically fed, but also mentally and emotionally nourished.

If you need a hand putting it all together, don't hesitate to book in a Fast-Track assessment to meet with a Certified Trainer and see how we can help. We're located at 57 Lyons Road, Holden Hill, SA.

Leaving some feedback, questions, or a rating would be very appreciated ⭐

Happy training and bonding!

Cheers, Ryan King.

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20 ago 2023

Ive just read this.

My thoughts. What my personal experience has been. From age 15 I joined my elderly neighbours at Dover Gardens obedience school. That was where I was introduced to choker chain ( aka necklace if it is NOT pulled)


Ollie came to me as a one year old well trained dog. He had a halti & had already done touch traing & " find my car keys & find my tv remote etc

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20 ago 2023
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I let Ollie "slip" as I didn't want dog slobber on my TV remote. The kids loved the halti as they could walk him. as otherwise I held the lead & occasionally they walked with us. Especially in Carisbrook. I'd used long lead for recall training since age 15 ( now 61) treats were only used from when Ollie came to me. Then the question was

Are you BRIBING the dog to jump into the car or rewarding him??

My question then was " what happened if I run out of treats??

I preferred a really happy voice

" good dog" etc plus pats & praise

I heard almost exact thing by a farmer showing his Kelpie working sheep. He…

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Jase Manzor
Jase Manzor
17 ago 2023
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

Clear and insightful, as always!

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